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September 29, 2023

Tax Simplification, Male Prostitution, and Mormon Thrift Stores

Senator Max Baucus presented three tax reform proposals in three days aimed at fixing and simplifying the tax code which is stupid because the tax code is already super simple and works just fine.

Senator Max Baucus presented three tax reform proposals in three days aimed at fixing and simplifying the tax code which is stupid because the tax code is already super simple and works just fine.

For instance, I can deduct non-cash donations to charity on line 17 of Form 1040 Schedule A.

You know what's not cash? Blood. And according to the American Red Cross website, I can help save three people’s lives every time I donate blood. I gave blood at the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center in Orem, Utah, on September 18, 2013, and I saved three lives. I’m a goddamn hero.

In the legal system of the United States, human life is considered priceless, so the amount of my non-cash charitable donation is infinity times three. Unfortunately, Section 170(b) of the United States tax code limits my charitable deduction to 50 percent of AGI, and Section 170(d) only allows me to carry forward charitable contributions in excess of the 50 percent limitation for five years.

If life is priceless, then I'd get to deduct 50 percent of my AGI every year for the next five years. However, a memorandum from the United States Secretary of Transportation says the value of a statistical life is a meagerly $7.17 million to $36.17 million, cutting my deduction for three lives down to somewhere between $21.51 million and $108.51 million, meaning that I'd get to deduct 50 percent of my AGI every year for the next five years.

The down side is that I have to donate blood again in five years.

Before leaving the American Red Cross Blood Donation Center, I asked for a tax receipt, and all the employees tried really hard to pretend like they didn't think I was a dick.

Since my non-cash charitable donation would exceed $500,000, section 170(f)(11)(D) says that I need to send in a qualified appraisal of my blood performed by a qualified appraiser.

Unfortunately no one will appraise my blood at infinity times three dollars.

But all isn't lost because according to, a pint of blood is worth $240 on average. It’s pretty easy to justify bumping that up to $250 since I'm above average, but I won't because of the convention of conservatism.

But then if you read "Value of Time or Services" on page seven of IRS Publication 526, it specifically lists “blood given to a blood bank” in its list of items “not deductible as charitable donations.”

So all is lost. With blood. Not with plasma. I could donate plasma, get paid cash for my plasma donation, donate the cash to the American Red Cross, and then deduct the donated cash on Line 16 of Schedule A. That makes sense.

So on November 18, 2013, I went to Talecris Plasma Resources and overheard that the wait to donate plasma was two-and-a-half hours. Screw that.

I went back on November 22. I signed in at 7:34 a.m., and honest to God, they had a white board that read, “You can still make $240 by December 25.” That could have only been more perfect if it had said that I could still make infinity times three dollars by November 23.

Then they asked to see my Social Security card and proof of my current address. So at 7:51 a.m. I signed in again.

I filled out their paperwork and had three separate “consultations” that mostly revolved around drug use, sexual history, and trips to third-world countries in the ‘70s and ‘80s.

By 8:52 a.m. they hadn’t gotten me to the blood-plasma-taker-outer machine yet. I was still in with Karen, a nurse of some kind, who was supposed to administer my “physical,” but she hadn’t asked me to drop my pants, so legally it wasn’t a physical.

We were approaching an hour and a half, and I was ready to throw the match. This was a stupid amount of time to earn a heretofore undisclosed amount of chump change when all I was really trying to do was have an experience about which I could write a stupid blog post for goddamn Going Concern.

So finally I looked Karen in the eye and said, “Can I confide in you, Karen? In 1982 when I lived in the Republic of Congo, I had sex with a man for money. I used the money to pay him back for the heroin I used and for the tattoo that he had just given me. Please don’t tell anyone any of this. Mostly because it’s all a lie. I really just need to get the fuck out of here because unlike the rest of your ‘donors,’ I have a job to get to.”

After my plasma experience, I went directly across the street to the Deseret Industries Thrift Store (it’s the Mormon version of The Salvation Army – same weird smell, just fewer coffee makers) and spent $1.50 on a Cannery Hotel & Casino baseball hat which I chose because the Cannery Hotel & Casino and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints have such closely aligned mission statements. Immediately after leaving the thrift store, I drove to the donation center at the rear of the thrift store, donated the baseball cap I had just purchased, and asked for a tax receipt which I promptly filled out for $240.

The system works. And it’s super simple.

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